Monday, January 25, 2010

DVD: American Slapstick Volume II #3 -- January 25, 2010

Allday Entertainment has issued American Slapstick, Volume II, a three-cd collection of slapstick movies, mostly silents, and mostly shorts. Some of the movies are recovered from 9.5mm prints. Others are new reconstructions from multiple sources. All the silents have enjoyable scores, either created new for this set or assembled from contemporary recordings.

Disc Three has three sections: Hearts and Havoc, Ladies, and Talkies.

Hearts and Havoc groups two shorts with love themes. "Be Reasonable" is a Billy Bevan short, typical of Sennett's 1920s shorts, with lots of special effects. Bevan was funny despite all the craziness. "Call the Wagon" was the first Neal Burns movie I had seen. It was fun and didn't drag.

The Ladies section has some shorts starring women who are not remembered as well as they should be. "Cinderella Cinders" starred Alice Howell, whom I have seen before. My daughter liked her frizzy hair. Alice and her leading man did a good drunk act. "A Hash House Fraud" was a Keystone starring Louise Fazenda. It was funny, and it included an appearance by the Kops. "Faro Nell" was an early talkie, also starring Louise Fazenda. The melodramatic style reminded me of "The Fatal Glass of Beer." My daughter loved her voice.

The Talkie section was weak. "Playboy Number One" starred Willie Howard. I had read about Willie and his brother Eugene in vaudeville, but had never seen him. He put on a wild French accent. My daughter thought his interactions with a blonde he chased sounded like Pepe LePew. It wasn't very funny. "Hollywood Runaround" starred Monte Collins, whom I had seen in Buster Keaton's Columbia shorts. He was a boob who was chosen to run for mayor of Hollywood against a candidate backed by the mob. It was funny.

I'm glad I got the set. I'll be watching it again. Now I have to find Volume One.

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